Dominica wins first prize!
At one point during our passage yesterday, from Dominica to Martinique, Rebecca and I passed the time by discussing what each of our favorite foods were. If we could only eat one type of meat, what would it be? How about vegetables? What about green vegetables, or fruits, etc. You get the idea. Although neither of us would want to exclude any the wonderful foods that make up our diet, it’s only natural to try to pick out your favorites.
Raising anchor in Portsmouth, bound for points south.
And so it is with the islands that we have visited. Each beautiful and diverse with their own strong points, there are none that we regret visiting. There are, however, some that we have developed stronger bonds with. Until just recently, we would have placed Grenada at the top of that list, an island that we still truly love. Now, after spending almost a month in Dominica though, we’d have to say that we have a new first-place winner.
Note: Coincidentally, the article that I wrote about Grenada, a bona fide gem of the Caribbean, is due out in the next issue of Multihulls Quarterly. Look for it on the news stands in April.
What is it about Dominica that makes us so fond of the island? Here are a few key points in no particular order.
- The island has an abundance of natural beauty to explore. To be honest, if we had stayed here for months, we wouldn’t be able to exhaust all that there is to see and experience.
- There is a large, protected anchorage. I’m referring to Portsmouth on this point, not Roseau, which although an interesting stopping point, was not a comfortable anchorage when we were there.
- There is an abundance of fresh produce available, at very good prices. On this point, Dominica can not be beat! Rest assured, you will not go hungry there.
- Unlike other islands, where we found that we were always spending money, it was possible for us to enjoy Dominica on a budget.
- There is a good public transportation system and where that is not available, Dominicans are quick to pick up hitchhikers, making it easy to travel without the expense of a taxi.
- Resources, such as water, dinghy docks and garbage disposal, are freely available for cruisers. Wi-fi was also available, either freely on shore or through paid services. In addition to this, emergency medical care is also free in Dominica, and not only for locals, but for non-resident cruisers too!
Even with all of the above, there is no way an island would get top marks from us if we didn’t thoroughly enjoy our interaction with the people who call the place their home. Here is where Dominica really stood out. Much as we did in Grenada, we quickly came to learn that when we had dealings with Dominicans, we did not have to always be on guard, wondering if there was an ulterior motive for their nice behavior. On the contrary, many people seemed to go out of their way to extend courtesy to us.
The boat boys, who do make a living by providing tours and services to visiting yachties, also made multiple kind gestures for which no financial renumeration was expected. For example, Martin ( aka Providence) in Portsmouth brought us gifts of food and flowers on several occasions. He also made daily visits to our friends on s/v Earthling after Kelly had injured her leg. Likewise, Sea Cat in Roseau, who makes his living by providing tours, freely gave us tips on how to get to the Boiling Lake trailhead even after we said that we would head out on our own without employing him as a guide.
Much like in Grenada, people greet each other warmly on the streets and on busses with a pleasant “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon.” New to us though was the frequently heard “Welcome to our island” and “Enjoy your stay in Dominica.” And these phrases were not solely made by those in service businesses who cater to tourists. Rather, we heard the same things from random people as we walked through the countryside.
Even with all of the above, Dominica is admittedly not perfect and has recently had a couple of serious crimes reported in the news (none against cruisers though, or to my knowledge, in the areas frequented by cruisers). The same can be said for other islands that we have felt perfectly safe while visiting though, or our home cities for that matter. I found it interesting that when talking with various Dominicans that they were very much in tune with how bad these crimes were and how they could negatively affect their island. I had heard that in the not-too-distant past, there were some issues of theft, etc. that did affect yachties. The Portsmouth boat boys, who now all must go undergo training to ply their trade, have now made those crimes a distant memory and serve as a model for other islands to follow.
Although Rebecca and I still have the itch to travel, an itch that will not soon be scratched, if we were to choose a place to settle down, I’m pretty sure that we could be quite happy in Dominica, which at least for the time being, is our blue-ribbon winner for cruising destinations.